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Seiko despises this 'tournament'. Just as he does the entirety of the Makai and the idiot demi-deity who brokered for him to be here. As soon as they stepped through the portal he felt it, the dark energies of Hollows. Not a single, or even a pack, but an entire world comprised of negative energy, and all the creatures that had evolved to thrive there. 

She loves this place. It promises Her endless amusement, limitless strength and constant, overwhelming violence if She can just get past his iron guard. 

"This is a bad place, deza goro yo." Himura murmurs and taps his sword hilt. "The faster we are through this thing, the faster we can go home."

Seiko wonders that his student has so quickly adopted Serietai as 'home'. he'd thought that a few centuries would have to pass before the red-head lost his needy emotions for the human world. Perhaps the responsibilities of captaining Fourth have grounded him to his new existence.
"So you guys are like Botan right? Taking the dead on to wherever? Why are you here to teach *us*?" One of their new 'pupils' asks, voice full of the rough arrogance of youth. A minion of Koenma's, like Ichigo a soul with unique and difficult circumstances. Unlike Ichigo, he is no Shinigami, yet. Seiko doubts that one will ever bear another's spirit alongside his own. Still, unique souls are dangerous, unpredictable, so Seiko marks him as one to watch very carefully if he continues to survive. 
Aji thankfully knows how to speak 'thug' very well. "Botan? Oh you mean the little oar girl? Naaaaa she's not a Shinigami, man, she wouldn't pass the first week in academy. We are *Gotei* 13! Three captains and a fifth seat from 11th Division which is just as good says *my* captain. We don't ferry people anywhere. We beat their asses for going the wrong way in the first place." he proclaims with a grin. Bright as flame, fierce as eagles, Seiko hopes Aji can temper himself to a minimum of damage. 

//Please don't get hurt Aji. Don't give me an *excuse*...//

"Sometimes we deal with spirits and demons but not often, Koenma's... people are *supposed* to be handling this sort of thing." Haikada's gruff reply is characteristically democratic. Still trying to be politically correct with an insulting edge. "I suppose he got too many of you killed to be efficient any more."

Seiko wants to grin at the stunned silence and rising hostility, the young are so *easy* to rile... but Her voice is too loud, words almost distinct though he's turned his mind as far from Her as he dares. 

Aji shakes his finger, drawing their attention and ire. "So, here we are, ready to give you guys an impromptu education! Pay attention cause we're not gonna repeat anything!"


Hiei grunts at Aji's fire. "He's good. Very good. Probably *not* up to the Black Flame yet."
"You can't tell?"
"Shinigami aren't like demons. They rely on their sword spirits too much for me to tell who's spirit strength is which without using the Jagan."
"Interesting. So the sword should be a weak point."
He snorted "Sure. As weak a point as stealing your rose whip Fox." They both grin at the memory of the last idiot who tried that and ended up the whips meal.


"This one is very sorry to have to hurt you, that he is. This one does not enjoy killing, or causing more pain than needed, so please surrender quickly."

"Captain Himura, stop wasting your breath and aim for the nads, they'll surrender fast enough!"

"That is a vulgar blow!"

"But it works!"

"Only if their genitalia are in the same place, Aji-san. That is not something you can count on with Makai creatures." The tiny girl rebuked lightly from the book she was reading.

"What really?"

"This is why you should read the mission notes Aji-san."


He can't block Her words now. Three days of mindless violence, blood shed as a sport for *entertainment*. He tucks himself in close to his companions, tries to focus on their voices and the steady, supportive touch of their hands. Aji plays with his hair, Haikada grips his arm or shoulder, sometimes the nape of his neck. 

Tamashihane tries to drown her out with her own soothing songs. Cool breeze lullabies and the chilling howls of wind through stone. His sword is fond of him, she finds him worthy despite Her presence and he is ever so grateful of that connection. Aji takes most of the fights, it is his gift. Haikada steps in when he decides that it would be prudent to give Aji a rest, or when he wants a particular opponent to live. In chains. Himura volunteers when he is sure he can win with little blood loss at all. 

Seiko they let sit, and read. Sometimes he takes out his kit and patches up whatever has become ripped or bruised, but Himura is the healer, Seiko is there... Seiko is there. She is so. Loud. 


"Did he actually *arrest* one of his combatants?"

"There *is* a warrant out for Rikudo..."

"There's warrants out for almost everyone *in* this stadium!"

Koenma rubs his face while the female Shinigami Seiko happily binds the demon up in Kido chains and the announcer's voice fills the stadium.

"Well... uh, that round goes to the... Shinigami... I guess..." A shushed whisper over the microphone to the another announcer makes everyone sweatdrop. "Is taking prisoners *allowed*? It is?!" then louder she continues "Shinigami team are advancing! They're advancing Rikudo... right on out of the arena! Don't get lost guys you have a few more rounds left! Now, our next match up is... team Urumeshi's Kuwabara against Team Gensuo's... Frogget? Frogget!"

"About time I'm up! Semi-finals here we come!"

"Be careful Kazuma-san, they know you're only human."

"So what? I can take on anyone!"


The call him by name, he has to fight. He dare not call his blade, Tama is strained enough keeping Her at bay. He must be quick, he must be precise, he must *not* give Her a single negative emotion to use against him. 

"Hello! Thank you for being my opponent today, I will be as merciful as possible!"

Somewhere many souls are either laughing hysterically or shuddering in terror. The creature he faces only grins mockingly from a face built like an alligator. 


He spins with his hands free and empty, shaping the Kido more with instinct and Will than the actual incantation. Fast, precise. "Disintegrate, you black dog of Rondanini! Look upon yourself with horror and then claw out your own throat!" 

His opponent has no time to escape, the red violence of the spell takes hold of every muscle, paralyzing. Seiko is Force. There is nothing that withstands. 

She screams for more, for blood and pain. She wants him to kill. With a shuddery breath he bows, then walks away with a smile. It's a gritted smile, She is sandpaper under his skin, but he smiles. He can still defy Her for now. 


"So she *can* fight."

"Did you really doubt?"

"I wasn't sure. They might have just needed another member. She has been acting as a healer until now."

"That doesn't preclude knowing how to take someone apart."

"True enough I suppose. Though why hold her in reserve for so long? Even if three out of four don't want to kill, and I'm not so sure how true that is, it's suspicious."

"Maybe they're waiting for a big enough target to unleash her on."


He makes sure to only use Kido. Kido are teachable, even the demons could learn Kido if they worked at it long enough. 

Himura pulls his hair. It's a dull pain, compared to the one *inside* his head, but it is Himura and that means he's worrying his student and he mustn't do that. Not more than the younger soul can bear. Aji's arm is around him but he has stopped feeling it, his nerves are dulled to anything but pain and he knows this is dangerous because sooner or later he will stop feeling even that. The agony inside will blind him to *every* sensation beyond his mind and leave him a vulnerable, hollow shell She can easily take over. She does not need to convince him, or strike him down all at once, She can wear him down and grind him to dust if She just has enough time. Tama can not hold her at bay forever. 

He uses Kido to buy Tama time, for himself and everyone else alive.


"Seiko... you're reading that backwards."

"And upside down deza goro yo."

"It's a challenge." She's too loud, he has to drown her out somehow.


"Just stay *down* dezo goro yo!"

"Like *hell*, I can take you old man!"

Kenshin sighs because it is so familiar, he's faced so *many* young men filled with drive and power and rage and always they think they can win by sheer brute force. By being in the *right*. The right has nothing to do with who wins. But it is a lesson he must teach, time and time and time again. 

A lesson he'd had to learn himself, more than once. 

Seiko-sama had been a *thorough* teacher, unafraid to break his student if it meant the lesson was absorbed. In that regard at least he'd been superior to Hiko-sama, who somehow expected an angry teenager to just *grasp* what a grown man had known for so long. Oh if only Hiko-sama had taken him by the scruff so many years ago and *shaken* and refused to let *go*... there would have been resentment of course, and possibly hatred and rebellion, Kenshin was aware enough to acknowledge that, but perhaps lives could have been spared. 

He would not take Yusuke's life, but he *would* show him his own limits. Otherwise he'd be a poor teacher indeed, wouldn't he?

"This one is sorry deza goro. Truly. Ryukansen Kogarashi!"


"Urumeshi-san be *still*. Please. You need to rest..."

"Old... hag...."

"There's nothing you can do for her now. Please.... Yusuke.... you need to heal. After you can avenge her."

"Bastard.... cheated...."

"No, Urumeshi-san... no he didn't. He tried very hard to leave you *alive*. He wanted you to *live*."


"I don't know... but I think.... because that was Justice. I'm not sure. Human motives are still a bit strange to me."

"You're more... human... than you... know..."

-sad smile- "No Urumeshi-san. But humans are closer to demons than they'd like to admit."


 Aji likes brawling as much as the next guy from 11th, but even he's getting a bit bored of the constant smack down on demons. The guys are decent against themselves, but not all that inspiring facing trained killers. For all the hype that the Makai is full of dangerous feral madman and berserk barbarians intent on cannibalism... the place isn't all that bad. 

He saw the same kind of bloodshed in Rukongai, they were just better at hiding the bodies in back allies instead of scattering pieces all over a sports arena. 

He hasn't even had to pull his sword yet. His fists are working just *fine*. Okay, so they aren't in the final rounds yet, just the semi-finals finishing off the riffraff, but he'd hoped to at least break a sweat. The Spirit Detective and his gang hold their own pretty well, but Aji's not so sure how much they're really *learning*. A tournament isn't the place to *train*, they should be hauling these kiddies back to the Academy for a decade or two but the PTB swear there's no time or maybe no funding....

One thing's for sure they haven't learned *humility*. Himura *said* he was sorry, the twit should have just taken his beating like a man and stayed down!

"Here come the Toguro brothers!"

Those two give Aji the creeps. Something about the way the big one never smiles, and the little one never *stops* just makes his teeth grind. That, and the way they keep giving everyone stare downs like they want to *eat* someone. Aji gets some demons do that but those two *were* human. Gross!

The big one points a finger across the space of the stadium and Aji smirks, feeling the fire in his veins flare up. "You want a piece of this tough guy?"

Except the finger, he realizes, isn't pointed at him. his voice is the only one in the air but the words are lost and meaningless, unheard. 

Seiko flips another page in his book. "Did you know, there's over 900 distinct demon races listed in the Makai census? And that's before you get into clan varieties and inter-marriage offspring? Sadly there's no specific identification class for humans that achieve racial symbiosis. I'll just have to vivisect one and write a paper for the scientific journals." 

There's a cold wind tamping down Aji's fire. His girl shouldn't sound like that. Like she's *enjoying* the thought. 

The rough swell of jeers and cheers and screaming fans is nearly deafening but Aji's too busy worrying to listen.




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July 2017

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